The annual competition encourages university students to develop innovative solutions to current problems.
Judit Giró Benet of the University of Barcelona was the 2020 international winner for The Blue Box. This device and an accompanying app are designed to make it easy and more comfortable for women to self-screen for breast cancer at home.
The current gold standard for detecting breast cancer is a mammogram. During the procedure, each breast needs to be compressed between two plastic plates while an X-ray is taken, and it can sometimes be painful or at least not particularly comfortable. That can lead women to avoid getting tested, potentially reducing survival rates. To make matters worse, mammograms have relatively high rates of false positives and negatives.
The Blue Box, on the other hand, is designed to be simple to use at home, to remove that discomfort barrier that may prevent some women from getting tested. The device uses six chemical sensors to analyze urine samples for a particular set of breast cancer biomarkers, with the grunt work being performed by an AI algorithm in the cloud.
The diagnosis is then sent to the accompanying Blue Box app. Benet says the system is more than 95 percent accurate.
"The Blue Box endeavors to change the way society fights breast cancer and to give all women in the world the chance to avoid an advanced diagnosis, making screening a part of our daily lives," says Benet. "The prize money will allow us to patent more extensively, expediate research and development, and help to ensure our product is viable."